Monday, 4 March 2013


The sun keeps poking its head around the clouds and peering into my office space (which is actually a corner of my bedroom but for daylight hours it’s my office). It’s spring, me thinks, until I go outside in my new very lightweight navy drape coat and realise it is, in fact, still bloody cold. This cusp of the seasons confusion has been long lamented by fashionistas who can’t decide whether they should be wearing woolly jumpers or a flimsy shrug, oh the wardrobe dilemmas. Well, they bother me far less than seasonal food confusion. I’m not craving those thick beef stews anymore (although that could be a subconscious horse paranoia) and I’m not onto salads and lighter bites – although vegetables rather than massive piles of mashed potato are quite appealing. In short, what can I eat that’s packed with healthy veg for a new leaner spring-like meal that’s also going to take the edge off my chilly extremities? Two mighty Italian soups come to the rescue, ribollita is a superhero of a soup – a soupahero if you will. It’s packed with gorgeous vegetables in a light broth and punchy aniseed flavours, but I also like the whole meal in a bowl vibe I get from the pasta in minestrone so here’s my conglomeration of both.

Serves 3

1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely diced
¼ of a head of celeriac or 2 sticks of celery, finely diced
½ courgette
400g tin cannelini beans
1.5 pint chicken stock
2 handfuls dried wholewheat conchiglia (shell pasta)
4 small tomatoes, roughly chopped
400g cavalo nero, shredded
1 tsp fennel seeds

  1. In a large pan heat a good glug of olive oil. Fry the onion for 2 minutes and then add the garlic carrot, celeriac or celery and courgette and cover with a lid, sweat gently for 10 more minutes until all the veg is soft.
  2. Add the beans to the pot with the stock, pasta, tomatoes and cavalo nere, add some freshly ground black pepper and the fennel seeds and give it a good stir. Bring the soup to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes until the pasta is cooked. Serve ladled into bowls.

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